GREENWICH, Conn. -- When the moving truck backs up to her Old Greenwich home Wednesday morning, Karen Newman will be leaving for Vermont with a fistful of medals in one hand and a Bible in the other.
Newman, a nationally decorated masters triathlete, is moving to South Burlington, with her husband, Peter, and sons, Stetson, Chase and Trent. Newman. A breast cancer survivor who also battled anorexia as a teen and then bulimia well into adulthood, will leave Connecticut with a heavy and hopeful heart.
“God is calling us to go to Vermont,’’ said Newman, a devout member of Trinity Church in Greenwich.
Newman met her husband while attending the University of Vermont in 1982. They have been longtime Greenwich residents, but Vermont has also been a big part of her life.
“I always felt that it was home,’’ said Newman, who has other family members living in Vermont. “There’s something so special up there. It’s not like we’re going to place where we don’t have friends.”
The decision to move came in part due to a recent job loss and Newman’s desire to share her inspirational message. The decision became even harder when a recent home renovation project that Newman said the family delayed 13 years was recently completed.
“I cried and I couldn’t stop when I found out we were moving,’’ Newman said. “I called up my prayer warriors, I was just so sad. They said people in Vermont have been praying for your family to come because they need your family to shine the light. They don’t have youth groups for children in high school. They don’t have CBS (Christian Bible study.) I feel like we’re being brought up there to be missionaries. I know that’s why we’re being called there.”
Newman dialed back her competition and training this year. In a busy 2013, she won two gold medals at the National Senior Games and then went on to win the 5k and break the Triathlon World record at the Huntsman World Senior Games in a time of 1:11.
She was honored with the Bob Casey Courage Award from the Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance. In 2012, she finished second in the 50-54 age group at the International USA Triathlon Age Group Sprint World Championships in New Zealand.
She also devoted herself to young runners at Greenwich Track Club. For the past six years, Newman and Emmy Stocker have developed interest in running among children in fourth and fifth grade.
“She’s just wonderful with kids,’’ Stocker said. “She brings enthusiasm and experience, she’s creative, and she’s a role model. We have fun with them. She’s very encouraging and positive, and the kids are going miss her a lot. They got very attached to her.”
The running and triathlon community will also miss Newman, who competed in events large and small around the state. She was always among the leaders, and delivered an inspiring message every where she went.
“Her running is so impressive,’’ Stocker said. “She never goes halfway. When she enters a 5k, she goes in to win it. She also has a good life balance. She’s not obsessive compulsive about running. She has her kids, her husband and her work. I feel like Greenwich has lost a wonderful competitor and friend in the running community.”
Newman is writing a book, "Just Three Words," that will be published next year about her faith and fight with cancer. She said she’ll return to Connecticut to compete -- and no doubt win -- after the move. She has left a legacy of as a triathlete, breast cancer survivor and motivational speaker who has been revered and respected in Fairfield County’s vast endurance sports community.
“This is hard, because I love all of my friends,’’ Newman said. “I’m going to miss them so much."
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